Artwork for podcast Si Yo Fuera una Canción (If I Were a Song)
Marilynn Montaño (Original, English)
Episode 193rd December 2021 • Si Yo Fuera una Canción (If I Were a Song) • Elisabeth Le Guin
00:00:00 00:49:33

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This self-described “library kid” went on to practice journalism with local newspapers, and now works with Libromobile, currently Santa Ana’s only independent bookstore. Marilynn talks to us about the tensions that arise between reporting on a community and belonging to it, and about her hopes for Downtown Santa Ana, a contested area due to gentrification, and the cultural projects that are trying to maintain a presence there.




220 E 4th St #107, Santa Ana, CA 92701

(in the alley between 4th & Spurgeon)

A literary arts co-op & bookstore

Open Tuesdays to Saturday from 12-6pm & until 9pm during Art Walk (the 1st Saturday of the month)

Instagram: @libromobile  -- Web



222 W. 5th Street, Santa Ana, Ca 92701

A free interdisciplinary art gallery & community space

Open Thursday & Friday from 4-7pm;  Saturdays from 12-4pm. By appointment all other days & times.

Exhibit and virtual tour:

Albert López, “El Baile del Dolar Que Nunca Tuve” (The Dance of the Dollar I Never Had)



Instagram: @barriowriters -- Web

A creative writing program which provides free college-level writing workshops in Orange County, CA. Their slogan is “Empowering Teens through Creative Writing”

A non-profit program that offers workshops and additional one-on-one tutor hours. Participants build skills in reading, grammar, creative writing, critical thinking and freedom of expression through cultural arts. The session includes guest writers, who serve as role models in our neighborhoods and support youth aspirations.



17th & Main, Santa Ana

Low-income artist housing, currently suffering problems with security and management


Wiegand, Wayne A. A Part of Our Lives: A History of the American Public Library (Oxford University press, 2015)

Overviews about US American public libraries



Greetings and welcome to the latest episode of “Si yo fuera una canción” -- “If I Were a Song.” We are a community-based podcast and radio show, in which people of Santa Ana, California, tell us in their own words about the music that means the most to them.


This, our final interview for:


ELG: All right, welcome, Marilynn. I am thrilled to be interviewing you and getting to know you a little better through this interview. And let's start right off, if you don't mind introducing yourself to the listeners: your name, if you're comfortable sharing your age, that would be great, and tell us a little bit about your connection with Santa Ana.

Marilynn: Okay. My name is Marilynn Montaño. I am twenty-seven years old. Born and raised in Santa Ana. And how I got to Santa Ana, I have to first address my parents, because my parents migrated from Puebla, Mexico to Santa Ana around there in the early nineties, late eighties. I don't have the exact time... So that's how I'm here in Santa Ana.

ELG: Uh-huh. Uh-huh. That was, as I understand it, that was a period of a lot of migration from Mexico into Santa Ana. I mean, a number of interviewees that I've had that are approximately your age, yeah, that's when their parents came.

Marilynn: Yeah. And I still have yet to know more about their personal story before I was born, because I'm interested in that. So but whenever someone asks me, it's always, I'll say, Yeah, Santa Ana, but it's always kind of I like to acknowledge them because without them, I wouldn't be here. So... [laughs]

ELG: Indeed, indeed! True for all of us, with all of our parents, wherever they came from. So tell us a little bit, Marilynn, about your work right now. You're living, still living in Santa Ana where you grew up. What is your contribution to our community?

ez Fundamental High School in:

ELG: Of course! I'm still asking myself, and I'm going to be 65 this year.

Marilynn: Yeah, yeah. Yeah. And that it's OK to ask that right? I think.

ELG: I sure hope so.

Marilynn: Yeah. [laughs] My parents actually had hopes for me to become a teacher or a lawyer or some doctor, because to them, that means like, "Oh, financial stability!"

ELG: Sure.

Marilynn: But to me, that's not... It's not really what I wanted. And so in ninth grade, towards the end of ninth grade, actually, I remember an English class. Our teacher was passing around a sign-up sheet for a journalism class. I was like, "OK, we'll do it," so entering sophomore year, I came into journalism class, and I want to say that taking journalism all throughout high school, I think it's one of the ways that kind of gave me, like, hope to go to go to high school.

'Cos I wasn't really interested in what my high school offered. It didn't really have a lot of programming, like they didn't have ethnic studies back then. I mean, now there's more of a push for ethnic studies, right? Yeah. Back then, there wasn't. Yeah.

And I didn't really feel like... My concentration wasn't that great. I didn't have, I wasn't your like A-plus student. I was like a C-D student. But I was, I had... There were the words inside of me. I just didn't know how to express them, or how, or... I knew I wanted to say something, because there was a lot going on in my surroundings, and I was just like, so angry at the same time. “How do I express all this?” So journalism was like one of the outlets for me at that time, to express it, to learn how to express it.

ELG: Yeah, I mean, I get it, that the programming at your high school was not all that adequate for kids like yourself, but it's so great that there was that one thing, right?

Marilynn: Yeah. So then I had that going on in high school. But then after school, during those years, I was already a library kid, the libraries for me were like another safe place. It's like another, second home.

ELG: Mmmm, yeah.

Marilynn: So then I joined the Teen Space club that the Santa Ana Public Library had offered, and they had it at Newhope as well, in that branch. And so I was able to meet other folks my age at that time. You know, I was really shy back then. If you ask anyone that knew me in those times, I was really shy.

I was a person that, like, didn't like to go outside, even to go to the grocery store. I was just used to being inside, and that's where I wanted to be. It was just, yeah, that was a lot for me.

ELG: You know, before we go on, I just want to do a brief shout out to the Santa Ana Library. Yes, we actually have a team member for the production of this podcast, Laura Díaz, who also came up through Teen Space. I think she was going to the downtown branch.

Marilynn: Oh, nice. Yeah.

ELG: And I mean, yeah, as I've gotten to know what the Santa Ana Library is doing for this community, it's just really rich and really important, and I'm just so glad that you brought it up!

Marilynn: Yeah, well, I have to because it's part of my roots, right?

ELG: Yeah.

Marilynn: And since we're on that note, I do want to also give a shout out to the local librarians that helped nurture me, and I am still friends with them to this point. Zulma Zepeda, I met her actually at the Santa Ana Public Library -- the main branch -- and she really she means a lot.

She's no longer at Santa Ana public library, she's at another Orange County public library branch, but she was the one to help to -- She gave me a Gloria Anzaldúa book.

ELG: Oh wow!

Marilynn: And I still have that. That's one of my prize possessions. It's signed! And she's like, "Look, I got you this book and it's signed!" And she, as a librarian should, she put a plastic on it. And I have that. So if there is a fire or anything, I would grab that! [laughs] So, um... Yeah.

ELG: Which book was it? Which one?

Marilynn: "This Bridge Called my Back."

ELG: Yes, "Esta puente mi espalda," Yeah, yeah, yeah. Wow, what a bold and appropriate thing to do for a teenager, right?

Mujeres de Maíz event after:

But she's always been around in my life. And I really -- you know, librarians, they do a lot for students!

ELG: They sure do. They sure do.

Marilynn: Yeah, yeah. So she did a lot. She means a lot to me. So... Yeah.

ELG: I'm so glad this came up. What a nice note to strike at the beginning of an interview, is just the importance of libraries, you know!

And the importance of these safe spaces where all kinds of information are available, and then these these amazing people who are the librarians. It doesn't get talked about enough.

It doesn't get praised enough. So, I'm just really glad you brought that up.

Marilynn: Yeah.


INSERT #1: Public Libraries

ELG: Knowledge is power, and the history of libraries shows it. Up until the 19th century, libraries were private collections in the hands of the powerful, or linked to powerful institutions like the Church. Literacy was once an index of wealth and influence; even today, it is closely tied to economic well-being.

ge through libraries. Thus In:

Here in the United States, the first free public lending libraries were established in New England in the 18th century, where literacy was probably around 50%--but again, we are talking about white men. There are few more telling recognitions of the power in knowledge and literacy, is power, than the fact that enslaved persons were prohibited from learning to read or write.

b in Mexico, where as late as:

No library is truly free, of course; those in the USA are supported by local and municipal governments using tax dollars, while in Mexico libraries are part of a federally administered system.

It’s not incidental that they are a not-for-profit model. The benefits of libraries are not easily quantifiable, but they tend toward greater social equality rather than individual gain.

Marilynn’s account is similar to others I’ve heard from young people, about the quietly life-affirming space provided by the local library, and the paths toward dignified futures that emerge from that space. In my opinion, public libraries are one of the linchpins of civil society, among the most unqualifiedly noble institutions still available to us.


ELG: So let's fast forward just a tiny bit and tell us how this has brought you to what you're doing today, to make your living, but also, you know, unpaid work also counts, of course.

Marilynn: Right, yes. Yes. So, you know, I started to meet other folks in the community through Santa Ana public library. And that's where I found out about Barrio Writers, which is a creative writing program that happens every summer, and it's been going on, I want to say longer than 13 years. Yeah.

And if anybody, if this is your first time listening or finding out about Barrio Writers, search it up, it's still going on! I knew about Barrio Writers because of the Santa Ana Public Library, and that's where I got to meet other folks in the community.

And because at that time, Barrio Writers, it got hosted at El Centro Cultural de Mexico, and that's how I got to meet other folks in the community from that space. And I met folks from Raíz, which now they're called Resilience Orange County. I met folks from the Latina Breath of Fire, Elvía Susana Ruvalcaba, who still does theater and poetry, and Sara Guerrero, and all the folks…

So fast forward to around senior year, I started doing journalism internships. I was the second student actually to ever intern from the Santa Ana school district at the Orange County Register, because back then we didn't have a program like that. So yeah, at the time, I was like, "I'm going to do journalism," right?

ELG: Mm hmm.

Marilynn: Back then I was like, Who? Who do I go to like, ask about what it's like being a journalist, right? There was these connections and I actually got directed to meet Teresa Cisneros at the Orange County Register at that time. And then so I was under her mentorship and Ron Gonzalez at that time. And so from there I was like, "So what do I what I report on, what I'm going to report on, what's going on in Santa Ana?" At that time, my focus, I wanted to do more like Arts and Culture. So I remember, like, I would ask a local artist to interview them and we would meet at Café Calacas -- or [just] Calacas at that time, it's no longer there. But I always remember that because that's where I would ask folks to, if they wanted to get interviewed, I'm like, "Let's meet there!" And we'd go and we'd talk and I would, you know, have my notebook and I, we would do the interview. I went from the Register, then I went to the Voice of O.C. It was a short, short internship. And they're also local. And then I went on to The OC Weekly back when they were in Red Hill. They all have a unique story, but I really enjoyed my time also at The O.C. Weekly. I think I reported on the The O.C. Dream Team. Back then they had an event and I wrote about it...

But I was also becoming involved in my community. And so as a jour[nalist] -- you know, for journalism, it's kind of like you can't really get involved if you're reporting, or, I don't know, it's like that mix, right?

ELG: Yes.

Marilynn: So I... Yeah, I had to choose. And so I just, I decided "I want to get involved in my community." But at the same time, when I was trying, I was deciding to do that, even folks in my community, because they had seen me being mentored or that I was part of the journalism world, they were like, "Is she trustworthy?" you know? -- And it hurt.

ELG: Yeah. You know, I think that's a really interesting thing that you're pointed at right there, and I want to see if I can articulate it a little further, because it's – yeah, I mean journalists are supposed to be, I guess "objective" would be the word, right?

Marilynn: Yes.

ELG: You know, there's always got to be, like you're one step back kind of looking at what's going on. And, you know, I do wonder how realistic that actually is. I think the idea that that we can somehow magically be free of bias, I question [that]. -- Please keep going, because I'm interested to hear how you might have closed that gap, or how you might be working at closing that gap, between being supposedly objective and being genuine about where you are and what you believe in.

Marilynn: Well, I think that also messed with my mental health as well because it put me in a place where like, "Am I trustworthy?" And you carry that! I genuinely I wanted to report on what's going on. And you know, for me, it was like Arts and Culture. I don't feel like there's enough reporting on what's going on in our community.

But also, I was like, "But I'm also part of my community, and I'm also an artist as well, right?" So I was like, you know, I think I was fumbling through that -- or I don't wanna say I was fumbling, but I was always in between that.

ELG: It's really, really tricky. I agree. -- Marilynn, what do you do right now? I'd love you to be able to give a shout out to the place where you're working right now and what you guys are doing in the community.

Marilynn: So currently, I'm a bookstore manager, events coordinator, y más, at Libromobile. We are an arts cooperative, an art gallery cooperative.

We are located in Calle Cuatro, downtown Santa Ana, in the alleyway on 4th and Spurgeon. And we are open Tuesday through Saturday from 12 to 6. We're also open virtually 24/7 through our website, which is

ELG: Oh, cool. Yeah, we always link to, you know, websites and and community resources that our interviewees mention, so that'll come up on our website when your episode is published.

Marilynn: Thanks.

ELG: That is cool. And you guys, you guys run a gallery as well, I understand.

Marilynn: Yes. So Crear Studio, which is a BIPOC art gallery, is part of Libromobile. So whenever you're supporting the bookstore, know that you're also supporting your art gallery!

Orange County has art galleries, and they're mainly -- a lot of them, you know, hold space for white artists or are led by white folks, and they don't make space for BIPOC folks. They don't make space for them in their art galleries right? They're only either -- they either probably work behind the scenes, or the gallery, right? But like --.

ELG: Yeah, yeah. When you have a community that is in some ways vulnerable or endangered -- which I think it's safe to say that the BIPOC community here in Santa Ana, as in many other places in the United States, is -- it is both important to get recognition and support from established, which often means white-run organizations --

Marilynn: Yeah.

ELG: And at the same time, it's equally important to resist and to reject them. And rare is the established organization that can accommodate that.

ynn: But now, we're here now!:

Like, for instance, there's Albert López, who's the first who got to exhibit here at our studio recently and. His show was called "El baile del dólar que nunca tuve," and you can still see all that virtually through our studio.

Albert López got to show all around right, but not in his own city where he grew up in -- until now. And he actually has a piece that got picked up by Cheech Marin, right? We want to change it up, you know, and there's a lot of, you know, amazing members behind our studio.

The founder is Sara Rafael García. She's the art gallery owner. And so, you know, look it up!

ELG: I want to move us forward now to some music, because we've been talking for 32 minutes and there hasn't been any music yet! [both laugh] And music is one of those things, I will say, that can move us forward and unite us where words might separate us. And that's one of the reasons that this podcast exists.

So Marilynn, you chose such amazing music. I just... The music you chose makes me super, super happy in two very different ways, because the two selections are really different from one another.

So let's start with the first one, which you chose to represent where you come from. And, you want to tell us a little bit about that selection?

Marilynn: Yes. So I chose the song "Mija" by Vel the Wonder. When this song came out, I remember... I know when I like a song, I replay it so many times until I get tired of it. And so I replayed the song, probably like on my way to work and on my way home, so many times! Any time I can find to listen to it. That's how much I loved it when it came out. So "Mija," which translates to "daughter," you know, I hear "mija" at home, and that's what Dad calls me and... And it's very endearing. And this song, you know, to choose a song of where you come from, that for me is always like, It's so easy to say “Santa Ana,” right? But then also, there are so many layers behind that.

This song for me, it reminds me of my dad, more. My parents, but my dad more. I have a... Now as a twenty-seven-year-old, I have a complicated relationship with my own father.

ELG: Let's listen to it.

Marilynn: Yes!


MUSIC CLIP #1: Vel the Wonder, “Mija”


ELG: I think that's about the most laid back hip hop I've ever heard.

Marilynn: Right! [laughs]

ELG: Just, it's like [it] slows down my breathing, you know, it's so laid back. And you know, the message is, like, pretty strong. You could imagine, like these words coming out in a really different way, that would be like a lot more kind of forceful. So, what do you think, Marilynn, about the fact that it is so -- musically, like the beat --- is sooo laid back?

Marilynn: Well, this song is it's like a reminder…Ok, I'm taking it back to kindergarten! Because I remember I was choosing my what to wear to my first day at kindergarten, and that to me, like stands out. But I remember, like, you know, my parents were in the bedroom and I was trying to choose what to wear. And I wore something very mismatched, and they were like, "Oh, yeah!" Like they were in support. They were like, "If you like it, yeah!" I'm still showered with a lot of support from my parents.

ELG: Yeah.

Marilynn: So that to me, you know, my dad is always saying "Mija," and saying, you know, to poner las pilas, which means "put on your battery." [both laugh] Yeah. So yeah, that song is... It's very, it's relaxing. It's a reminder of something. Yeah.

ELG: And I think when we're relaxed, we're better able to remember things, right? Like when I get stressed out and going too fast and stuff, I can't remember worth shit. [laughs] It's like, I forget ordinary things.

But yeah, it kind of like creates this ambience that you can just kind of relax into. And then, like, you just shared a memory going all the way back to kindergarten. What were you, like five, right?

Marilynn: Yeah.

ELG: And yet, you know, there's this strong message, she says, "You gon' learn / from all my mistakes." And that's true. I mean, we do learn from our parents' mistakes. And sometimes, as you say, our relationships get more complicated with time. But that's part of that learning process. Or at least that's the way I see it.

Marilynn: Yeah. And then you make, you actually -- well, I learn from my own mistakes as well, you know?

ELG: That's right!

Marilynn: Yeah. And then also, I think when Vel the Wonder said, "You're first daughter," because I'm the first daughter. I'm the only daughter! [I] have younger brothers, so I'm growing up and being the only daughter. It's, you know, it has its pros and cons, especially when you're the first one.

ELG: I'm a first child as well. So I think I -- yeah, that's a whole, very, very interesting topic.

And of course, you know, your parents didn't have any practice before you.

Marilynn: Yeah, no!

ELG: So they were learning, they were on a real steep learning curve with you. It's pretty much inevitable, I think. Yeah. And yeah, it's it's a very particular kind of weight that one carries as a first child. Well, what a -- yeah, what a lovely song. And the way it evokes the past, I think, through just like creating this open space from the really slow beat and the kind of very down-tempo, trumpet line and stuff. It's... Yeah, and I did not know about this artist, and she's interesting: you know, she has no presence on, for instance, Wikipedia, which is like the Bible of finding out about artists you didn't know about. But she's sufficiently, I would say, underground [that she doesn’t}.You know, she's operating more through social media.

Marilynn: I have not met her personally. I mean, if I ever did that, it’d be super cool. But her music, her albums, her the music video to "Mija," she did a collaboration with a fashion brand. I think they go by "Bonita." But the music video for "Mija" is, like... The production and everything how it was executed, it's like, I like to rewatch that music video as well sometimes.

ELG: It is a really beautiful music video. It's extraordinarily beautiful and very, very clever how it's put together. And the whole kind of retro feel, you know, like the cool jazz feel of the song, is kind of picked up in the visuals in all these clever ways. It's really pretty.

Marilynn: Yeah. And so props to, you know, Vel the Wonder and all the team, I'm pretty sure, you know, indie musicians who... They don't get a lot of credit for what they do. Not just their music, but everything that goes behind it.

ELG: Right.

Marilynn: I don't know the cost and everything that went [in]to it, but it's... The presentation speaks for itself.

ELG: It's really thoughtful and really, really beautiful. I agree.


INSERT #2: Vel the Wonder


ELG: I want to pivot like, directly, to your next song, while Vel the Wonder's song is still kind of, you know, in our ears a little bit, I want to go directly to your next song because the contrast is so intense! And I -- and then I want to talk about that contrast in your life. So let's listen to Downtown Boys, "I'm enough/I want more." Here we go.


MUSIC CLIP #2: Downtown Boys, “I’m Enough/I Want More”


ELG: Well, tell me how this song came into your life.

Marilynn: Yes! [laughs] Well, it's interesting becaue I didn't know about this band until someone who I once had a long-term relationship with, they put me [on]to this song. Well, the songs of the band.And then from there, you know, I was like, "I love this band!" So now I'm like, whenever I'm like, I need some like, some... Not just reassur[ance], not just some reminders also, but like, to get pumped for whatever I'm doing, or... I go to some of their songs, from Downtown Boys.

Here you have a band from Rhode Island empowering a twenty-seven-year-old from Santa Ana, California! [laughs]

ELG: As far as I can tell, they are a multiethnic and somewhat bilingual band, right?

Marilynn: Yes.

ELG: And, but yeah, I noticed the Rhode Island piece and it was like, “What?” But you know, you come from where you come from. But to get to this, I don't know... It's like, yeah, this is SUCH energetic music! It really could not be more different than your first song! [both laugh]

Marilynn: And I remember because the reason why that person who put me on to this band to listen to, they're like, "This reminds me of you." And so I thought that was interesting back then.

But now I'm like, Well, yeah, because it's so… I was trying to decide which song to choose from Downtown Boys because it was between "I am enough/I want more," and "Wave of history," which is another good one.

But with "I'm enough/I want more," I think it speaks to my... I, you know, I've gone through some burnout with myself, and anger, but I'm still trying to like, survive.

And how do I put my anger into more of a productive order? -- Or not! You know, like, this world is so consumed with being productive all the time. But also like, how do you process your own feelings?

I know it makes people uncomfortable to see someone so angry. And I'm being told to hush, or "Not this way!" or, you know, to repress my anger. But I've been so angry and I'm still angry, you know? So this song just speaks to it.

ELG: It absolutely does. And you know, it's not lost on me that the lead singer is a woman. And she is a woman who knows how to shout! And I mean that actually, like technically! It's like, shouting, shouting the way she does for this whole song, which is over three minutes long. I mean, I couldn't do that. I would start coughing and my throat would seize up. You know, it's actually a technique that you have to learn.

Marilynn: Yeah...

ELG: A good punk singer knows how to do that, and it's it's so powerful to just hear a woman shouting angrily for three minutes, you know. Because... You know, I'm going to the gender aspect of this. I think more than anything, because it cuts across different cultures.

You know, your upbringing, my upbringing, which was very different, many upbringings: women are supposed to be quiet.

Marilynn: Yeah.

ELG: And it affects all of us! And this lady, what's her name? Victoria Ruíz --

Marilynn: Victoria, yeah.

ELG: -- She's like, "Nope, uh-uh, I'm going to shout and you're going to listen." And she does it so well! You know, it's like, when I was listening to this song, I thought, "This is like really attractive punk music." And then I thought, but I think punk music is not supposed to be attractive! [laughs]


INSERT #3: Downtown Boys

ELG: This is the first punk music to be featured on our show, something which I admit kind of surprises me, given the amount of counterculture that our younger interviewees are invested in.

s has been in existence since:

“Downtown Boys are keenly aware of the increased visibility and credibility that comes with signing to a corporate-media conglomerate such as Sub Pop.

They’re using this platform as a megaphone for their protest music, amplifying and centering Chicana, queer, and Latino voices in the far-too-whitewashed world of rock.”

This begs the question of the extremely problematic correlation in USAmerican culture between “having a voice” and having money. It’s easy to accuse artists of “selling out,” and many do; on the other hand, the DownTown Boys won’t serve their goals by remaining obscure and relinquishing their megaphone. (Not that Victoria Ruíz needs a megaphone!


Marilynn: Yeah, no, it's trying to send a message, right? Like, for instance, housing, like low income housing. Because still, to this day, there's artists in our community that are, you know, struggling, -- I'm personally struggling with housing!

My family is! I know so many others are, and you still see them out protesting or, you know, trying to bring about awareness on housing insecurity in their own form. I personally may not be out rallying as much as I used to, because that came with my own burnout.

ELG: Well, yeah, and there's so many different ways to do this work. I mean, getting on the street and chanting and banging drums is super important. [But] not the only way. And you know, I'm really glad that you brought this around to the housing thing because that obviously that's been huge in Santa Ana very recently. Just very recently, the City Council finally – grudgingly -- but they did vote in rent control, which is a big thing. And now, of course, there's a counter push from the Apartment Owners Association, which [means], you know, yet more fighting is going to be necessary to make sure that money doesn't carry the day against the needs of people who don't happen to have money. And so it's a very present issue in our community.

And Santa Ana is far from unique in this way, but it's particularly visible here, I think because the the divide between the haves and the have-nots is, it's extremely visible in this community! And it, you know, you can't really pretend that it's not there. And yeah, you know, pulling a Victoria Ruiz: yeah, you can do that out on the street, by literally shouting on the street. And that's important.

Marilynn: Yeah, very important.

ELG: It is very important. But -- and I say this again -- it's not the only way, and there are ways to shout that are not physical shouting. And you know, I think running a community bookstore, running a community podcast, you know, these are also contributions. And the main thing is that we all kind of pull together and acknowledge one another's contributions to making this city and this world more livable for everyone.

Marilynn: Yeah. And that's why, you know, on the note of Libromobile. And Libromobile, you know, where we're at, it's very interesting as well, because we're in the downtown area and still trying to remain, like the Quinceañera shops, they're trying to make it, right? For example, Albert Lopez's show: his suit. Where was that suit bought? It was from, it was bought from a local bridal shop in the downtown area, a Latinx shop, you know?

It's so interesting to me. I go to work at the bookstore and I'm pulling out the signs to get ready for the day so people can see our signage, because we're in the alleyway. But as I'm passing by, we're -- it's by the playground in the Michoacana, that area where the Carrousel used to be. I'm passing by that area constantly, but also that's where I protested along with other community folks. And now I'm here pulling signs, right? And I take it as like, by me being at the bookstore and the bookstore being in existence, we're seeing, we're fighting against gentrification, you know? Many people might think that's not a form of how you fight, but for us, it's like, “Well, we're the only bookstore in Santa Ana!” You look, you Google "bookstore" and "Santa Ana," you will find us! We're trying to remain and saying "FU" to gentrification. We're here!

And if you walk in, like also, all the books that we have on our shelves, it's not like your typical like Barnes & Noble, like what you see, it's like we curate to have a certain selection of books. We prioritize having black, indigenous and POC authors. Everything from poetry, children's book, memoir, nonfiction, special collection... Our, you know, we're always trying to grow because folks are they come to our store and then they go home with, like Isabella Allende. Or, you know, Gabriel García Márquez, [or] local authors. We have a whole shelf that's like dedicated to local authors. So...

ELG: It's so awesome. You know, I'm just going to weave it back to the, some of the words of the song: she ends -- she's screaming, but she's saying, "Yes, that's mine. Yes, that's ours. Yes, that's ours. Yes, yes, yes. Yes, yes." And you know, it's like a very positive, forceful, positive message she's got there. And and that's what I hear in your voices you're talking about your bookstore is, is that, "Yes, that's mine. Yes, that's OURS. It belongs to us. We can we can make this happen.” And by having that bookstore there, yeah, that's what you're doing.

Marilynn: Yeah, so, you know, I'm throughout the week, I'm helping other[s], I've been training other book advisors, and stacking books or doing book inventory and or helping run events. And I hope that, you know, I... it continues on, because it's just, not just this… You know, the bookstore -- I have to give before we end this interview, the bookstore, you know, it was founded by Sara Rafael García, she's a local artist. She's author of "Las Ninas," "Santa Ana's Fairy Tales," and I can link those for you because she also touches on the subject of gentrification [and] housing in her stories.

But if it wasn't for folks like Sara and other folks I've met along the way, like David López from the library -- another librarian I'm mentioning -- it's folks like them that like, remind me, like, "OK, be angry. But also, like, you know, put it out, like in paper! Like, publish! publish a book!" I've been trying to finish my book collection of poetry for the longest time.

ELG: Sure. Sure. Well, that is really a great note to end on. Yeah. Like, get it out there! Let your light shine, let your words shine.

And I really hope for you, Marilynn, that that book of poetry comes out. I'll be in line to buy it when it does! [both laugh] That's really exciting. And yeah, it's... And [then] this song, man.

Marilynn: It gets you pumped up, right, for the --

ELG: -- Gets you pumped up in the most like positive, adrenalized kind of a way. And it's like, "Yes, yes, yes, let's go!"

Marilynn: Yeah, I know I went from, you know, relaxing to like, you know, “let's get it going. We got things to do.”

ELG: I think, yes, and we do. We all have so much to do, and it's good to have a few really great anthems to remind us kind of how to keep moving, you know?

Marilynn: Thank you for -- I want to say, thank you for having me on, and everyone, you know, behind this project. I, you know, we're we're reconnecting right because I know we have seen each other at community events in the past, but now we're reconnecting.

ELG: So, I know, it's nice, and it was nice to see your face briefly on Zoom before I shut down the video because it was like, Oh yeah, I remember that face! So yeah, it is really nice to reconnect.

And, you know, I wish many more reconnections for you going forward. It's, you know, it sounds like there's room for some of that. And I think as we all learn together how to build community, you know, that reconnection is a part of that.

Marilynn: And thank you to Zo, for putting me on your on the list and how we also got to be here now.

ELG: Yeah, Zoë is -- that gal is going to change the world.

Marilynn: Yes.

ELG: No doubt about it. She is a mover and shaker. So... Yeah, OK. Thank you, Marilynn. So much. Beautiful interview, and I'm going to shut down the recording on my end now.


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For now, and until the next interview—keep listening to one another!

I’m Elisabeth Le Guin, and this is, “Si yo fuera una canción -- If I were a song…”